Monday Notebook: KU wins big and Midseason Final Four picks

Here are a few summaries of what’s going on with Kansas Athletics this week, January 30:

1. Winning streak snapped as West Virginia takes down the Jayhawks

Kansas played well enough to win for over 30 minutes of the ball game, but it wasn’t able to finish the job. DO NOT FREAK OUT OVER THIS LOSS! West Virginia is a good team and they are tough to beat at home. Kansas is still the favorite to win the Big 12 (in my crimson and blue eyes, at least). Josh Jackson had his best shooting game of this season, going four-of-four from behind the arc. Even though he fouled out, he finished with a team-high 22 points and had a monster jam to boot.

Devonte’ Graham had 17 points and played a solid game overall. Frank Mason had 15 points but just two assists. Somehow, this is one of his worst games of the season. KU still cannot stop anybody in the paint, as West Virginia outscored KU 34-20 in that department. That’s pretty bad. Landen Lucas is the only guy who can guard anybody down low (though Carlton Bragg is getting better). For as big as this game was, it was just the appetizer. Kentucky is up next.

2. Kansas fights back to beat Kentucky 79-73

What an amazing win for KU on Saturday. Early on it looked like Kentucky might be able to put the game away before halftime. The Jayhawks had other plans. Josh Jackson was the man of the hour, scoring 20 points and grabbing 10 rebounds. He also made one of the biggest plays of the game; with KU nursing a five-point lead and about 1:00 left, the shot clock was about to run out, so Devonte’ Graham pulled up for a mid range jumper that missed. Jackson, however, was there to tip the loose ball away from Kentucky forward Derek Willis, secure it, and bank it off the glass for two points for a metaphorical dagger. I believe that play won the game. Frank Mason was awesome yet again, finishing with 21 points. The importance of Landen Lucas in this contest (and to this team) cannot be understated, especially when you remember that Carlton Bragg was out due to suspension. Also, Dwight (or Doug, whichever you prefer) Coleby was really solid. He only played 10 minutes, but hustled his butt off for all of them. Kansas looked like a championship team on Saturday. Let’s hope they can keep it up.

3. My Final Four teams right now

Kansas: Did you really think I wouldn’t have them listed? KU not only is good enough to make the Final Four, but also to win the NCAA title. They have incredible guards and enough of a post game to keep opponents honest. If you read this website or my articles very often, you already know how I feel about the Jayhawks, so I won’t bore you by saying it again. Just know that I think Bill Self is taking the Jayhawks to his third Final Four.

Arizona: Sophomore guard Allonzo Trier (who missed the first their first 18 games for failing a drug test) takes this team to another level if he can play as well as he did last season. This is a very talented team with stellar guard play. The seven-foot, three-point sniping Finland native Laurie Markkanen has been Arizona’s best player to this point averaging 17 points and 7.7 rebounds. This team has only lost to Butler and Gonzaga, both of which were on neutral floors. They’ve beaten UCLA on the road, and they have a chance to do the same to Oregon on Saturday. Arizona is for real everybody.

Villanova: It’ll be back-to-back Final Fours for ‘Nova. The only knock on the Wildcats is lack of depth in the post (sound familiar?). Josh Hart is probably the second best player in America next to Frank Mason. All the guards on this team are really good. If they hadn’t lost a 17-point lead to Marquette they would only have one loss. Villanova could be the first team since Florida in 2006 and 2007 to win back-to-back titles.

Gonzaga: The Bulldogs have beaten Arizona, Florida, and Iowa State, and they have absolutely dominated in conference play. They are 22-0 and really don’t have an equal in the West Coast Conference. The strength of schedule (or lack thereof) is a concern for Gonzaga, but I think they’re as good as anybody this season and will finally get over the hump.

4. College Football National Signing Day!

The KU football program will officially ink their 2017 recruits on Wednesday. The event will be televised from 11am-1pm locally on Spectrum Sports (formerly Time Warner Cable Sports) and nationally on ESPN3. This is the first big date on the football calendar and it will be interesting to see and hear from new recruits. David Beaty has this thing going in the right direction everybody. Go Jayhawks!

Note from the Editor: Landen told me all fall last year that Kansas was going to beat Texas. He was right. Believe him when he says that KU is going places.

Landen Fields is a contributor for Rock Chalk Blog. You can check out his archive here.